ARNOLD, Calif.— California State Parks in cooperation with the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection (CAL FIRE) are planning to begin a series of prescribed burns beginning on or around the week of October 21, 2019 through the end of November in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The goal is to complete 382 acres this fall (see maps below). Ignitions are expected to occur when weather conditions are favorable and adequate resources are available. Some of the units have been previously thinned to reduce the fuel loading, which allows for a safer and more controllable broadcast burn. Much of this work was funded through Propositions 84 and 1 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, an agency of the State of California.
These burns are part of the prescribed fire program for vegetation management, hazardous fuel load reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, enhance the health of the forest by removing diseased materials, restoring essential nutrients to the soil, and reducing the chance of a catastrophic wildfire. Through forest thinning and prescribed fire, an ecologically healthy forest system can be restored and maintained. Additional benefits of these prescribed burns include protection for the Big Trees developments (Visitors Center, campground, etc.), and the North Grove of giant sequoias. Pile burning will also take place throughout the fall, winter, and spring seasons within the North and South Grove and along the Big Trees Village and Blue Lake Spring park boundaries. Prescribed burns produce significantly less smoke than wildfires. The burns are planned and coordinated with the Calaveras and Tuolumne County Air Districts in order to minimize the smoke impacts on surrounding communities. All burning depends on weather and air quality conditions that are favorable for smoke dispersal. If the conditions, such as weather or vegetation are not conducive for burning, the burns will be rescheduled. Communities near Calaveras Big Trees State Park, including Dorrington, Big Trees Village, White Pines, Blue Lake Spring and Arnold may experience smoke from the burning operations.
California State Parks is working with the Calaveras and Tuolumne County Air Pollution Control Districts to limit impacts to smoke sensitive areas. Both Highway 4 and the Walter W. Smith Parkway will remain open but may experience delays due to smoke and other hazards. The Parkway may experience short-term closures prior to the end of season closure. Some public campsites and dirt roads near the burn areas will be closed to public access during prescribed burn operations including the East and West Moran Roads, East and West 5000 Foot Roads, as well as the South Rim Road. Please obey all warning signs. For questions or comments about the projects or about the prescribed burn program, contact Jackie Olavarria at (209) 984-8703.